Monday, December 7, 2009

RIP EJ Henderson's Career

Scatterbrained bullshit thoughts to sum up a horseass night...

1. EJ Henderson will be missed more than people realize. He's come a long way; he was horrendous his first two years under Mike Tice. He was overmatched, every single game - my dad in particular constantly bitched about him. "EJ is always, always WAY out of position."

Then something happened that caught everyone completely off guard: he got better. A LOT better. A combination of a competent defensive coaching staff and the acquisition of Pat Williams freed up EJ to live up to his 2nd round pick potential. Still, he was never recognized nationally, never went to a Pro Bowl. He was ours alone, like the underground indie band you discovered that nobody else knew about and never caught on mainstream. I really hope he plays again. Doesn't even have to be with the Vikings. Just get back on the field somehow.

The Williams Wall gets a lot of credit for sustaining such a vaunted run-stopping defense over the years, but EJ deserves just as much.

2. National Football Post's Mike Lombardi had a great article (that I can't find now) where he detailed how and why Dome-field advantage is so critical, and how Dome teams struggle without those advantages on the road. In summary, he said the biggest advantage was the crowd noise that forces the opponent's snap count to be at least slightly telegraphed, giving the pass rush a big advantage. I think we saw proof of that last night. I don't care how many Pro-Bowlers you have on your D-line. Lethargy + road game = 0 sacks

3. Does anyone on the Vikings remember if Adrian Peterson is still on the team? Anyone? ANYONE?

13 carries for the best running back in football is pretty ridiculous. He did have six catches for 19 total touches, but where's the ball control offense? Why is Favre dropping back 87 times every game now? Don't panic when you fall behind, the Vikes have too much talent for that for chrissakes.

4. Me, however? I'm not panicking. Gotta think big picture. If you had told me before the season that the Vikings would be 10-2 with both losses on the road to the two defending conference champs, I would have happily taken that. Does it suck that the Vikings miserably failed their first test in five weeks? Yes, of course. But Arizona would have beaten 31 out of 32 teams last night the way they played. When Warner is that accurate and their D plays that physical, they are really good.

Seriously, last night sucked, and it tells you all you need to know about Vikings fans that we have to remind ourselves not to panic after every loss. But like in every relationship, it's good to drop the gloves sometimes. It can be good to get knocked down a peg once in a while. That invincible feeling is gone, but I'd rather have that happen now than in January.

(Although I'd feel a lot better if Baltimore beats the shit out of the Packers tonight.)

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